Archive for November, 2007

Sullivan, Lopez battle for USC pool win

Friday, November 30th, 2007

As some of you have doubtless noticed, I haven’t actually gotten around to posting an official update on the USC and Notre Dame prediction contestsall season long. Um, yeah, sorry about that!

Luckily, commenter and contestant Ken Stern has posted several unofficial updates, most recently on November 11… and if that update was correct (and I have no reason to believe otherwise, indeed my spot-checking confirms his calculations), two contestants — Sean Sullivan and Vicki Lopez — remain alive to win the USC pool, with the outcome to be decided by tomorrow’s USC-UCLA game.

Sullivan and Lopez are among 13 contestants with 9-2 prediction records, but they have the lowest “point differentials” of the bunch, meaning they have come the closest to picking USC’s margin of victory or defeat in each game. Lopez is a total of 104 points off to date, while Sullivan is a total of 106 points off. Sullivan picked USC to beat UCLA by 17; Lopez picked the Trojans to win by 27. That means Sullivan will win if USC either loses or wins by 20 points or less; Lopez will win if the Trojans win by 22 or more. If USC wins by exactly 21 points, they would finish tied, with identical point differentials of 110 and no further tiebreakers to separate them.

Interestingly enough, with the point spread set at 20 by most oddsmakers, the prediction contest almost literally comes down to a question of whether the Trojans cover. If they don’t, Sullivan wins. If they do, Lopez wins, unless they win by exactly 20 (Sullivan still wins) or by 21 (it’s a tie).

Anyway, the big question is, can Lopez (a.k.a. “Vicki from NJ”) finally win a contest? Three times — in the 2005 and 2006 Oscar pools and the 2006 women’s NCAA pool — she has been in position to win heading into the final event of a contest, only to lose at the wire. Can the Trojans win big, and break the “Lopez Curse” tomorrow? :)

In the Notre Dame pool, by the way, Sandy Underpants won, clinching early and never looking back even as he went 1-3 through the last four games of the season. He correctly predicted that the Irish would go 3-9, but he managed to get four games wrong along the way (he thought they’d lose to UCLA and Stanford, but beat Navy and Air Force) to finish with an 8-4 prediction record. That was better than anyone else, though. Andrew Long and Ken Stern, who both thought the Irish would 6-6, tied for second with 7-5 prediction records (both missed the Michigan State, Purdue, UCLA, Navy and Air Force games); Stern finished second on the basis of a lower point differential (183 to 197). No one else got fewer than six games wrong.

I’ll try to post full, official standings of both pools at some point. Maybe by the time the baby starts kindergarten. :)

Nebraska picks Pelini over Gill

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Nebraska’s new head coach will reportedly be LSU’s Bo Pelini, not Buffalo’s Turner Gill. YAY!!! (Hat tip: DUP and Scientizzle.)

They’re ecstatic over at

Hopefully this means Gill stays at UB and builds that program for at least a good while longer. He’s been mentioned as a possible candidate for some other openings (e.g. Duke, Wazzu), but it was widely believed that Nebraska in particular was the one job he’d drop everything for. If so, then the Bulls have dodged a major bullet. It’d be great to see them continue to build on this year’s improvement, with Gill at the helm.

UPDATE: No comment from Nebraska’s interim athetic director, interim coach, and possibly interim quarterback and interim kicker, Tom Osborne.

Meanwhile, it’s looking like a mass exodus from Baton Rouge, with rumors on the Internets saying that LSU head coach Les Miles already has one foot out the door, heading for to Ann Arbor.

CNN Breaking News

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Police arrest suspect to end hostage standoff at Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Dorrell blames Willingham Toledo

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Karl Dorrell is begging for one more year as UCLA’s head coach. In the course of making his case, he says this: "I hate to say it, but the guy who was before me screwed it up for me. And I had to clean it up and then rebuild." That’s right, folks, Dorrell is blaming Bob Toledo, who was fired in 2002, for the Bruins’ continued woes. And you thought the Notre Dame fans still blaming Ty Willingham were bad!! And this is coming from Dorrell himself!! LOL!! Way to take responsibility. You stay classy, Coach Dorrell.

More good stuff at

Alas, while I personally would love to see Dorrell stick around as UCLA’s coach forever, I’m afraid it is USC’s sad duty to dispense with him once and for all tomorrow. Ah, well — it’ll be well worth it, of course, not just for the Rose Bowl bid, not just for the win over our hated rival, but also for the pictures of Mike Tran driving around L.A. in his sweet Trojanmobile on Rose Bowl day.


P.S. I checked the Bruins’ roster, and in case anyone was wondering, no, UCLA does not have any sixth-year seniors, so Dorrell can’t say he’s still playing with Toledo’s recruits. ;)

Hostages being held at Clinton campaign office

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Not sure how this hasn’t been posted as a CNN alert yet, but an ongoing hostage situation is underway at Hillary Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, NH.  Senator Clinton is in Washington and has canceled her schedule for the day.  More info here.

CNN Breaking News

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Legendary motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel died Friday, according to

Man killed by exploding cellphone….or not

Friday, November 30th, 2007

A story came out of Korea a few days ago, reported on by the blog Engadget, about the death of a quarry worker that was being initially blamed on his cellphone.  According to the story he was found dead with the remains of the burned cellphone in his pocket.  Of course it all sound a little suspicious and investigation by the local authorities found that the mans injuries were too extensive to have been caused by a possible exploding battery.  How extensive you ask?  Well since the actual cause of death was being backed into by a 15 ton hydraulic rig driven by a coworker, i’m guessing there were pretty severe. The co-worker who fabricated the story of hearing an explosion and finding the body, later admitted to the crime and is being charged with manslaughter.

So there you have it, even if your cellphone explodes it probably won’t do so with enough force to give you injuries equivalent to being hit by a 15 ton vehicle.  Don’t you feel much better now?

Last call for baby pool entries

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Now that Becky is entering the last month before her due date, I am calling on her friends and family who have not already done so to enter the Irish Trojan Baby Pool today!  I am cutting off all entries at 12:00 midnight (Eastern) tonight

Why am I doing this?  Since the due date is usually only a "best guess," the baby is most likely to arrive a couple of weeks early, a couple of weeks late, or anywhere in between.  After talking to Brendan a month or so ago, we agreed that today would be the LAST day for entries.

Also note, guesses placed on this entry’s comments will not be counted.  Please click here (again, that’s here) to enter.

[NOTE: This post will stay on top of the homepage for the rest of the day. New posts will appear below it. -ed.]

Trojans beat OU; Kansas, Memphis next

Friday, November 30th, 2007


USC, having rejoined the Top 25 this week after routing Southern Illinois on Sunday, defended their #22 ranking with a 66-55 win over Oklahoma at the Galen Center yesterday. Freshmen Devon Jefferson and O.J. Mayo, pictured above, led the way with 23 and 18 points, respectively. Up next for the Trojans: a home date with #4-ranked Kansas on Sunday, followed by a trip to #3-ranked Memphis on Tuesday.


And then they wonder why we think they are nuts

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Seriously, if you don’t want the west to get incredulous with you, don’t do #$@& like this. Death? For naming a teddy bear Mohammed? Setting aside the fact that the Teddy Bear itself is named after one this nation’s best regarded presidents, or that Winnie the Pooh is named after one Winston Churchill. Do you really think anyone would get this upset if someone named a stuffed toy Jesus Christ (Brendan might even have one so named). I mean, even the most religiously conservative Christian Nation you could find wouldn’t call for death in a case like this, would they? I mean the worst case scenario would be you get told it’s insensitive to name the toy Jesus and you’d be asked to change it. And heck, people drink umbrella drinks from buddha cups and nobody seems to get particularly offended by this–even though consuming intoxicants violates one of the Buddhist’s five precepts. Okay, I’m done grumbling…

The bet, 2007 edition

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Two years ago, Mike Tran and I made a friendly bet on the USC-UCLA game, which, thanks to USC’s 66-19 win, resulted in Mike becoming a Trojan for a day.

Last year, we made another bet, and needless to say, things didn’t go quite as well for me. The Trojans lost 13-9, so I had to wear Mike’s UCLA jersey to our Professional Responsibility class, and publish a blog post about "Why UCLA is superior to USC." The latter was particularly galling because, as a rule, I like to be truthful and accurate in what I post on the blog. Posting such blatant lies was borderline unethical. ;)

Mike and I have made other friendly bets over the last two years on games of peripheral interest (USC-ND, ND-UCLA, UCLA-Gonzaga), most recently resulting in me officially owning him, but it’s when our undergrad alma maters meet that the stakes are highest — and in those contests, we’re each 1-1. Tomorrow, though, somebody will break the tie.

Here are the terms: If USC wins, Mike has to buy a USC car flag, and must put it (and keep it) on his car December 31 and January 1. So he’ll be driving around L.A. flying Trojan colors on the day before, and the day of, the Rose Bowl… muahahaha. He also has to get a picture, well in advance, of himself with the flag-adorned car, and send me a copy of said picture, so that I can set it to post automatically on the blog on January 1 (in case I’m in the hospital that day, which is a distinct possibility). Oh, and when he’s done with the flag, he has to send it to me, and I get to keep it.

If UCLA wins, I have to do much the same thing, but for a longer period of time — that’s our way of dealing with the odds, because USC is favored by 20 points, but we’re betting straight-up on the game. So if the Bruins are victorious, I have to buy a UCLA car flag and keep it on my car for seven days: to and from work on five weekdays and all day long on two weekend/holiday days. And I have to post a different picture of it on the blog (presumably via cell phone) every single day. (Ugh… that would be a nightmare, because I probably won’t be blogging much in late December and early January, so the homepage would most likely be dominated by pictures of the UCLA flag.)

If UCLA plays in the Rose Bowl, New Year’s Day must be one of the weekend/holiday days, unless we spend that day at the hospital. My end of the bargain is more flexible about the dates than his because of the uncertain timing of the baby’s arrival. (Obviously, Mike doesn’t want me to get credit for leaving the flag on the car while it’s parked at the hospital for 48+ hours, out of sight and out of mind.) But I have to do it at some point during bowl season. And, again, when I’m done with the flag, I have to send it to Mike, and he keeps it.

So there you have it. If USC loses, I’m sending Pete Carroll my therapy bills for the humiliation I’ll suffer from driving around town looking like a bandwagon fUCLA fan. Ugh. FIGHT ON TROJANS, BEAT THE BRUINS!!!

Turner Gill named MAC’s top coach

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

University at Buffalo head football coach Turner Gill, who was interviewed on Monday for the Nebraska job, has in the mean time been named MAC coach of the year for guiding the historically hapless Bulls to their best Division I-A season ever, with a record of 5-7. Which, incidentally, is identical to Nebraska’s record this season. Raise your hand if you saw that coming before the season started.

UPDATE: In a development that should surprise no one, ESPN is reporting that "Nebraska has narrowed its search to two candidates: Turner Gill, head
coach at Buffalo, and Bo Pelini, the defensive coordinator at LSU." Those two have been considered the front-runners all along.

Pelini! Pick Pelini!

UPDATE 2: Mum’s the word:

As the University at Buffalo football team was being honored at
halftime of Thursday’s basketball game against Tulane, the Bulls’
student section made their feelings clear about Turner Gill.

“Turner stay, Turner stay!” they chanted. “Turner stay!”

the only thing Gill wanted to discuss was UB football, not the
possibility of becoming the next coach at Nebraska. Gill, a
front-runner for the job almost from the time Tom Osborne became the
interim athletics director at the school, declined comment on anything
Cornhuskers related Thursday.

“Unable to comment,” Gill said. “That’s all I can say.”

Also Thursday, Osborne declared himself the interim coach until he
hires a successor to Bill Callahan, allowing Nebraska’s beloved former
coach to visit prospective recruits and try to prevent the program from
slipping during the recruiting contact period. Osborne said he hoped to
have a new coach by next week.

Gill, who according to sources
met with Nebraska officials Monday, was also asked if he had been
contacted by other schools, and also declined comment. Gill’s name has
surfaced for openings at Washington State as well as Duke. He said he
remains committed to coaching at UB.

The basketball team beat Tulane, by the way.

USC to leave Coliseum, play at Rose Bowl?!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

USC says it may move its home games from the Coliseum to the Rose Bowl starting next season, due to a breakdown in negotiations with Coliseum management. Scott Wolf says this announcement, particularly in light of its timing the week before the UCLA game, "really smells like a negotiating ploy by USC to pressure the Coliseum into agreeing to its demands," which Wolf suspects involve not just "improvements" but "revenue-sharing plans (like luxury suites)." Here’s how USC’s top lawyer, senior vice president for administration Todd Dickey, characterizes the university’s demands:

"Our first choice is to play at the Coliseum. However, the Coliseum needs some significant improvements. The sound system is barely audible, the video system is failing, the bathrooms need upgrades, the entrances, the seats, the lighting, just about everything needs work."

Dickey says USC "has offered to make those improvements," but the university doesn’t want to "just to hand the money over to the Coliseum Commission" — it wants to "actually operate the facility." That, naturally, is the sticking point. The quasi-public Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission doesn’t want to hand over the keys of the kingdom to those high-falutin’ University of Spoiled Children snobs. [/sarcasm] The L.A. Times opines: "some political observers have suggested that commissioners would like to avoid making themselves superfluous." You think?

The Rose Bowl is a neat and historic venue (of course, so is the Coliseum!), and this would be a return to tradition of the Trojans and Bruins sharing the same home stadium (the Bruins were at the Coliseum from 1928 through 1981), and perhaps both wearing their home jerseys when they square off each season. But it would stink for USC students. The walk to the nearby Coliseum — kicking that flagpole for good luck on the way, and then walking past the rose garden, and past the local Mexican food vendors selling churros and such — is a memorable aspect of football Saturdays at ‘SC. Braving traffic on the 110 to Pasadena would be far less romantic, and far more inconvenient.

And of course, it would stink for the L.A. economy, too, from hotels and restaurants on down to those food vendors I mentioned, not to mention the locals who charge obscene prices for parking near the stadium. As a result, Mayor Villaraigosa is raising a ruckus, pontifficating about how he is "absolutely committed" to maintaining the status quo: "USC football is one of the most important economic engines in South Los Angeles and the Mayor has no interest in seeing those jobs leave for Pasadena." I’m not sure whether the Mayor’s "interests" matter for present purposes, except perhaps to get the Trojans some bad press from Telemundo, but I suppose he might be able to pressure the Coliseum Commission to make USC happy. [UPDATE: Boi From Troy, who, as an Angeleno, has far better knowledge than I of the strange quasi-governmental structures they have out there, points out that Mayor Villaraigosa "matters because he directly appoints 2 of 9 Coliseum Commission members." Well then! I stand corrected. But my error was totally worth it for the Mirthala Salinas joke.]

In any event, Pete Carroll isn’t concerned about a possible move to the Rose Bowl. "It’s kind of been our second home since we’ve been here," he says. Heh. Indeed.

Some players, however, aren’t taking the news so well. The Coliseum is "my home," said linebacker Keith Rivers. "I wouldn’t want to change that." Added offensive linesman Jeff Byers: "[You can take our lives but] you can’t take away the Coliseum. [I AM WILLIAM WALLACE!!]"

I’ll just say this. If, heaven forbid, USC loses to UCLA on Saturday, it almost certainly won’t be because the players were distracted by this news. But no one will be able to prove that that wasn’t a contributing factor, and as a result, people will talk about it, and they’ll wonder, and they’ll gripe. The university will take a lot of heat for its ridiculously poor (well-calculated, no doubt, but in the grand scheme of things, poor) timing here. And rightfully so.

Of course, there’s a simple way to avoid that problem: BEAT THE BRUINS!!!

P.S. On the bright side, a move to the Rose Bowl would mean USC students wouldn’t have to deal with being physically assaulted by Coliseum rent-a-cops.

P.P.S. Also, a doubleheader at the Rose Bowl next November 8 — Oregon State @ UCLA, then Cal @ USC — would be way fun. Er, except for the hellacious traffic, that is.

It’s Nutt-y in Oxford

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Ole Miss has hired Houston Nutt to take over the head coaching duties for the nightmarishly bad Rebels football team.

Bowling for mediocrity

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Out of curiosity, is anyone excited about any of these projected bowl matchups?

I mean, not that Rutgers vs. Ball State in Toronto won’t be awesome… not that a UCLA-BYU rematch in the Las Vegas Bowl wouldn’t be thrilling… but it does sort of seem like the craziest college-football season in the history of mankind has left us with, at least on paper, a somewhat lackluster postseason. Of course, what’s "on paper" means nothing this year, right? But still.

Personally, if all of Mandel’s bowl predictions were to prove correct, here are the Top 5 games I’d be most interested in watching: